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Most Interesting Question Of The Week

Jonathan Wilde asks a thought-provoking question over at Catallarchy: what would you do if we lived under communism? (No bonus points for saying we already do!)


  1. Absinthe wrote:

    I’d call that thought-provoking if the involuntary jerking of the right knee counts as thought. And it’s about the beggiest of all possible question-begging to presume a) that belief in liberty stipulates submission to free-market dogma, b) that a Communist government would do more damage to the Constitution than any former or present government, and c) that assassination and revolution would be not only acceptable but appropriate responses to such a duly-elected government.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 6:14 pm | Permalink
  2. Karol wrote:

    As I don’t think we’re anywhere near Communism, my thinking is that I trust the American people enough to not elect Communists. But, if like in the hypothetical, they do elect Communists, the options are wait it out (because Communism is always doomed for failure) or vote with your feet and leave. As I’m pretty patriotic and fairly political, I’d probably do the former–wait and try to change minds. I’ve turned people into Republicans in something resembling droves, surely I can talk them out of one of the most disastrous forms of government in history. :-)

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 11:15 pm | Permalink
  3. Jason wrote:


    I think your left knee is jerking a bit.

    The question doesn’t at all imply that “belief in liberty stipulates submission to free-market dogma.” The blog is aimed at a free-market libertarian audience and is thusly worded. Nobody is ever going to mistake Catallarchy readers for Che Guevara Fan Club charter members. And I think that including assassination and revolution as options is absolutely necessary to get people to consider the full range of possibilities before giving an answer to such a hypothetical question. Finally, while a communist government might not do more damage to the constitution, I’m fairly sure that it would ignore all parts of the constitution that got in the way of it doing what it wanted. Sort of like the current government does…

    So, consider that the hypothetical happens, and tell me: why would you stay here and how would your life change? (I’m assuming, of course, you wouldn’t be running for the hills.)


    If I don’t vote with my feet, I’m much more likely to go for hearts and minds, too. Going all “V For Vendetta” is great for a movie plot, but not appealing in the “staying alive for many years to come” sort of way. I really think, though, that heading for the hills (of some other land) is the best option. Figuring out where to go would be the hard part.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 6:18 am | Permalink
  4. Absinthe wrote:

    Jason –

    I would say it was an interesting question if the “full range of possibilities” included any options that didn’t presume all of the things I mentioned. You and I will clearly have to agree to disagree about the question’s implication of the connection between liberty and free-market dogma; just to be sly about it I’ll say that maybe all your friends don’t have noses, but it’s just that plain to me. And if you substitute “Bogeyman” for “Communist” the question is just as “interesting” to someone who’s actually willing to consider a broad range of actions in any situation.

    If I haven’t run for the hills over the past six years, electing a Communist government isn’t going to move me either. Duly-elected Communists have a much better track record than Marxist revolutionaries anyway (I think we can agree that Catallarchy readers would say that the difference between a Socialist government and a Communist government is five or six letters and not much else), and a critical mass of the populace actually believing in that kind of radicalism might create some opportunities for lasting change.

    As for what I’d do, since a Communist government isn’t going to last any longer than a Democratic or Republican one anyway, I’d try to use the fact that the government would be amenable to certain ideas to my advantage. Let’s take the opportunity to once-and-for-all do away with this nonsense about corporate entities having Constitutional rights. That’d be a good start.

    (I’m more of a libertarian than you realize, Jason; I wish you all the weed you can smoke. But if you really think the question as posed was indicative of thoughts both deep and broad, you were definitely smokin’ it.)

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  5. Jason wrote:


    “I would say it was an interesting question if the “full range of possibilities” included any options that didn’t presume all of the things I mentioned.”

    I didn’t take the question as presuming those things at all. Including, yes, presuming, no. But you take it differently. So toss out the presumption, reword the question so it’s open enough for you to take seriously, and tell me: what’s your take?

    “As for what I’d do, since a Communist government isn’t going to last any longer than a Democratic or Republican one anyway,…”

    Assuming they didn’t do anything in terms of modifying the structure of government to ensure they’d stay in power…I’ll grant you that. Take the capital “C” and replace it with a little one – that is, make communist here not a party but a system of government – and I think we’re talking a very different story. You’re assuming that there will be an opportunity, without any outside prodding of those in power, to elect a non-Communist government again at some point in the future. I’m not going to go so far as to make that assumption.

    “Let’s take the opportunity to once-and-for-all do away with this nonsense about corporate entities having Constitutional rights. That’d be a good start.”

    Great idea. There’s nothing free about a market that’s tilted. How is it, again, that we disagree, sir?

    Here’s what I see in the question Wilde originally posed: what is the tipping point for someone who believes in a free society to pick up and go? What advanced metamorphosis of that society does it take to send a normal person to abnormal measures? What does it take for a happy, healthy person to put that health and happiness on the line because the prospects of them continuing in the future are dim unless a change of surroundings is enacted, and swiftly? And if those surroundings can’t be changed, what sorts of measures does one take to ensure health and happiness?

    Do I allow for more than the wording of the question? Perhaps. But that’s the direction in which I’m taking it. That’s why I referred in my title to thoughts being provoked. Every now and then I have a thought, and every now and then one of them is provoked by words written by someone else. This comment alone is proof of that.

    And finally, while you may be more of a libertarian than I realize – which I grant is entirely within the realm of possibility, and probably even on the high end of that scale – I’m much less of a smoker than you you realize. And I guarantee you that’s much higher on the scale than you’d guess.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  6. Absinthe wrote:

    If the situation has become entirely untenable (that is, the country finds itself in the hands of a duly-elected fascist dictatorship, which you’ll have to grant is an unlikely proposition), probably I end up hosting a meeting of small-business owners who’ve been run out of town on a rail by the rich industrialists who inevitably end up in charge no matter what, and listen to them rail and moan about the end of the American way of life and how it’s terrible that we’ve abandoned the Constitution for a bunch of dogmatic apparatchiks and how, by gum, we’ve got to do something, and then I say, “Welcome to my world, you kleptoplutocratic NIMBY sonsabitches. Guns are in the cellar, and I wouldn’t drink anything that’s boiling on the stove right now.”

    But that is, obviously, an extreme case, and still not really an answer to the question posed. Which I still think is a huge rhetorical turd, but you are welcome to continue to try to put a sheen on it.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  7. Jason wrote:

    I sense a conversation going due nowhere. Polishing complete.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  8. Jason wrote:

    You can check out the follow-up post here for some insight into where the question was coming from.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
  9. Absinthe wrote:

    Great googly-moogly! Chile is the example that inspired the hypothetical?

    In that case I, uh, stand by every single thing I’ve said.

    (I think the lesson that’s really told here is, never willfully substitute malice for mere incompetence.)

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

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